Our family of four is just back from a trip to Kauai, flying from Medford, Oregon through San Francisco to Lihu’e, Kauai, via United Airlines. We booked these tickets with a $300 credit each after being voluntarily bumped a year ago at spring break on a flight from San Francisco to New York. United was looking for volunteers willing to wait just one hour for a later flight. We jumped at the chance, and were each given $300 of United credit, as well as an upgrade to business class on the flight from SFO to JFK. In my opinion, a great deal.
Not every flight bump is voluntary however. Family friends from Ashland were involuntarily bumped on a Delta flight this spring break, when traveling from Medford to Salt Lake City. They had purchased their Delta tickets on Orbitz, had confirmation in hand, and had arrived at the airport 1 ½ hours before their flight. However, because they had not been assigned seats, they were bumped to a flight the next day, even though they had their confirmation. They were told that tickets purchased on Orbitz, Expedia, Cheap Tickets, etc., are considered “bulk tickets” and are not assigned seats ahead of time. If a flight is oversold, and enough travelers do not volunteer to be bumped, airlines will “involuntarily bump” bulk tickets first. The family did receive handsome compensation for traveling a day later, to the tune of $666 per person, in cold, hard cash. David Rowell of the Travel Insider, gives more information here on oversold flights.